Train Strike: Is ‘risking the children’s future’ the right thing to do?

Train Strike: Is ‘risking the children’s future’ the right thing to do?

The Railways Trade Unions are carrying on with their strike defying all orders issued by authorities.

So far among the demands made by the Trade Unions, the biggest is an increase in wages.

Talks held between authorities and Trade Unions

December 7: Talks with Secretary of the Ministry of Transport

December 8: Talks with Secretary to the President

December 10: Talks held once again with Secretary to the President

However, the dispute remains unresolved despite discussions, and the strike goes on…

As the strike action launched by railway unions continues unabated, the General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways has ordered all station masters, engineers and guards serving on a contract basis to report to work immediately.

Sri Lanka Railways has also issued a statement, saying “an opportunity has been given for engineers, guards and station masters who have retired, to return to service”.

Sri Lankans across the island use the train services to travel long distances.

The working class living far away from their work place, and those who make a living thanks to these train services.

These are the people who are struck the hardest due to this strike.


The People’s Voices

“It is wrong to use the general public to win your own demands.”

“This has been made an essential service. So what you have to do is get the military atleast to run the trains. Or else this is not going to work.”

“They must use force on the train drivers just like they did for the doctors. There is no other way to do this.”


‘Do not take responsibility’

Speaking to the media, Janaka Fernando (President – Railway Station Masters’ Union) said the unions have lodged a complaint with the ‘International Labor Organisation’.

Fernando also said that a case will be filed against the Government of Sri Lanka for “attempting to suppress our union action with an extraordinary gazette notification”.

“All of our members have received letters noting that they are being considered to have vacated their posts. I say this to all station masters; do not fear. We are accountable for your service. Do not take responsibility for any of these letters. If any letter is addressed to you, refuse to accept it.” he added.

Another TU member who spoke to the media was Lal Ariyaratne, the Co-convener of ‘Railway Operations Supervisory Union’.

According to Ariyaratne, “the government does not wish to ensure that ordinary level students arrive at their examination centres”.

Lal Ariyaratne also said the Trade Unions will continue with the strike “no matter what happens” until their wages are increased.

“We will continue with this strike until our increment is approved via a cabinet paper.” he said.

‘Gazette by President’

President Maithripala Sirisena declared ‘Railway Services’ as an essential service through an extraordinary gazette notification.

This notification was adopted in Parliament with 52 votes in favor, 8 against.

The Essential Public Services Act

As per the act, legal action can be taken against those who do not answer the summons.

What are these legal actions?

  • Case in the magistrate’s court
  • Prison sentence (2 to 5 years)
  • Fine (2000 – 5000 rupees)
  • Termination of employment
  • Confiscate all assets

O/L Examinations

The Trade Unions are also playing around with the lives of around 600,000 students who are sitting for the G.C.E. Ordinary level examination.

This is the future of Sri Lanka, our generation to come.

Some schools can only be reached by train while some students rely on their seasonal tickets to reach school.

These Trade Unions are throwing more challenges at these students who are already facing a mammoth task to shape their future.

Is this the right thing to do?

Is this the right way to win your rights?

How can you carelessly disregard the future of this country?

The Ministry of Transport has launched a special bus service to ensure that students sitting for the G.C.E. Ordinary Level examinations tomorrow (December 12) are not inconvenienced.

Billions of losses

  • Daily train turns on a normal day: Over 350
  • Train turns during the strike: 09
  • Loss caused by the strike: Over Rs. 12 Million
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